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Cheng vs. Streets

The battle for SF Superior Court Seat #4

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Andrew Cheng

Current Role

SF Superior Court Judge (2009-Present), appointed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009




Yale Law School ('92)
Columbia University, summa cum laude ('89)

Personal Life

Son of immigrants. Grew up in the Midwest. Married to his wife for 24 years and has three children in the Bay Area.

Phoenix Streets

Current Role

SF Deputy Public Defender (2000-Present)




UC Hastings College of Law ('97)
UC Berkeley ('94)

Personal Life

Grew up in Arkansas. Raised by a single mother in a low-income household of nine kids. A Navy veteran.

Why this race matters

We highly recommend you read our overview so you know what a Superior Court judge does and why this year's race is unusual.

Meet the incumbent

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Understanding Andrew

How Andrew describes his candidacy
“The gravity of what we do every day is never lost.”

Vision for the court

"I would like to see our court continue to innovate and figure out ways to reduce the costs of litigating cases. I would like to see us expand our capacity to settle cases through settlement conferences and mediations. I have a great deal of experience in alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and I see it as an excellent alternative to expensive civil trials."

Dealing with a Moral Quandary

"I once had to impose a very long sentence in a rape case. The mandatory minimum was doubled because the defendant had a prior strike. I personally do not believe that prison solves any problems of our society. However, I had to follow the law in this case and balance the rights of the victim (a 16-year-old girl) with the rights of the accused."
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What Andrew has done

Andrew's contributions to the legal and local community

Legal experience

Judge, SF Superior Court (2009-Present)

  • Presided over probate, criminal, and civil cases
  • Interest in alternative dispute resolution, a way for the Court can reach resolutions early so it doesn’t cost more $$$

Assistant US attorney, US Attorney's Office Northern District of California (2003-2009)

  • Settled hundreds of federal civil court cases

Deputy city attorney, City of SF (1997-2003)

  • Worked on tobacco cases that resulted in a $500M settlement for Laguna Honda Hospital

Overachiever Points

  • Faculty member, National Institute of Trial Advocacy (2008-Present)
  • Member, Asian American Bar Association (20+ years)
  • Member and Elder, SF’s Old First Presbyterian Church (20+ years)
  • President, California Asian Pacific American Judges Association (2014-2015)
  • Chair, Foreign Jurists Committee

Meet the challenger

Understanding Phoenix

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How Phoenix describes his candidacy
“I believe that most crime is the result of poverty, addiction, abuse, and/or mental illness.”

Vision for the court

“The court has a vital role to play in ending the pernicious cycle of recidivism that plagues a majority of those ensnared in the criminal justice system by addressing the root cause of crime through SF’s Restorative and Collaborative Courts.”

Most important quality as a trial judge

"I believe perspective is important as a judge. When a person comes before you, you need to look at this person and you need to think, 'What can I do to help this person? What can I do to help this person that’s also going to help the community?"

What Phoenix has done

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Phoenix's contributions to the legal and local community

Legal experience

Deputy Public Defender, SF Public Defenders Office (2000-Present)

  • Worked in Young Adult Court representing 18 to 25-year-olds
  • Tried 118 jury trials

Staff Attorney, Bay Area Legal Aid (1988-2000)

  • Worked with people who had housing issues, predominantly single women with children who were being unlawfully evicted from their homes.

Overachiever points

  • Member, Public Defenders for Racial Justice, a grassroots organization
  • Member, The Human Rights Campaign and Friends of the Southern Law Poverty Center

What others think

Endorsements for individual candidates. See what people said about the slates in our overview.

About Andrew

Rating: “Exceptionally Well-Qualified” – meaning that the candidate possesses all the attributes required for a rating of “Well-Qualified” and possesses several or all of those positive attributes to such an extremely high degree to be indicative of exceptional fitness to perform the judicial function for which she or he is being considered.
The Bar Association of SF

About Phoenix

"Phoenix Streets has tried more felony cases in the last two decades than any of the other 100 attorneys in the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office. By all accounts he is a naturally gifted trial lawyer who routinely wins his cases."
Matt Gonzalez, former SF Supervisor
Rating: “Not Recommended for Appointment/Election At This Time” – meaning that the candidate lacks one or more of the attributes required for a rating of “Qualified” at the time of evaluation but that the Committee considers the deficiency capable of correction in the future, e.g., lack of experience.
The Bar Association of SF

More reading

Other articles, analyses, and opinions. Let us know if there's another perspective we should include:

Ready to judge a judge?

If you haven't already, read our overview about why this year's Superior Court race is unusual.

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